Home Chennai Must-Buy Papier-Mâché Dolls for Navaratri

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    Ramani Y will exhibit her papier-mâché gods and dancing dolls for the first time in the city

    IMG_1178Catch unusual vignettes of rural India as Ramani Y brings her Navaratri dolls to the city for the first time, at the 14th By Hand, From The Heart exhibition. Known for her papier-mâché creations, Ramani says, “We don’t find these (rural) activities anywhere in cities. So I thought it’ll be nice if kids got to see these old traditional ways of work through my dolls,” says the Nagpur-based doll maker, who has showcased at the Milan Rho Fierra (Milan, December 2013), the Indian Expo (Dubai, August 2013) and other exhibitions around the world, where, much to Ramani’s surprise, “foreigners picked up dolls of Indian gods in huge numbers.”

    Drama in details
    Right from facial expressions and accessories to the costumes, the focus is on realistic detailing. “A village woman has innocent expressions and wears light saris while classical dancers have strong expressions and matching attire. Accordingly, I make silk costumes for Bharatnatyam dancers, light synthetic saris for village women, and for my North-Eastern dolls, I use woollen costumes,” she explains. Predictably the gods and classical dancers are adorned with heavy pieces of jewellery, while village belles at work wear just a thin neck piece.

    Rustic advantage
    The self-taught doll maker’s fascination for the craft started with the dolls her mother used to make with cloth, cotton and clay. Inspired by the works of artists like Raja Ravi Varma, her affinity to themes centred around Indian culture is evident in her work, as the 48-year-old admits, “I pick up my dolls’ characters from all the stories about villages that I get to hear from my parents, old movies, and my visits to villages like Ranthambore (Rajasthan), Narsapuram and  Srikakulam (AP) and others in Punjab and the Wagah border.” Using material like newspapers, saw dust, marble and chalk powder, the process requires attention. “We fix the wire frame on the wooden base, then paper mâché is applied on the wire to give the shape, before it is smoothened, painted, dressed and decorated,” Raman explains.

    For a cause
    Having showcased in Kochi, Bangalore and Hyderabad, about 15 women are responsible for the dolls. Ramani, who believes in women’s empowerment, also trains physically-challenged girls in her Nagpur-based handicraft unit, ARTEFAKT (started 25 years ago). From five inches to life-sized ones, Ramani’s dolls come in all sizes. She also accepts orders on her Facebook page.

    At Hanu Reddy Residences, Poes Garden. August 22-23. From Rs.100 to Rs.2,000. Details: 9422101883

    Elsewhere

    For Gollu, find Dasavatharam dolls and characters from the Mahabharatha, made of clay and papier-mâché, at Poompuhar Handicrafts, Anna Salai, from the end of this month. `350 to `10,000. Details: 28520624

    At JJ Modern Designs, Arumbakkam, you’ll find clay and papier-mâché Tanjavur dancing dolls, Bharatnatyam dancers and devotional vocalists for Gollu. Rs.500 to Rs. 4,500. Details: 9962224077

     Sri Jyothi Exhibition (August 20 to October 20), Mylapore, will offer terracotta dolls, wooden and papier-mâché dolls featuring farmers, fishermen, fruit sellers and more for Rs. 250 to Rs. 5,000. Details: 9962342417

    Buy dolls of gods and kings in terracotta courts at the Art and Antique store, Pondicherry. Rs.2,000
    to Rs.25,000. Details: 0413 4308414

    -Sharmistha Maji

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